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February 22, 2016

John Caldwell, 1946-2016

John F. Caldwell, a self-trained cartoonist who went on to have one of the most prolific and successful careers of the late 20th Century, died on Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.

imageCaldwell studied at Hudson Valley Community College and Parsons School Of Design for work in art that wasn't cartooning, an option that wasn't even on the artist's radar during his first few years post-education. When cartooning held promise as a creative outlet in a way that mapmaking didn't, Caldwell, moved in that direction. His straight-forward, rock-solid gag work put him in demand almost immediately. His magazine clients would include National Lampoon, Playboy, The New Yorker, and Wall Street Journal.

He began placing work with MAD in 1978, and became one of that publication's most prolific contributors if not a signature, name-above-the-magazine talent. While he occasionally worked with writers, Caldwell mostly placed work on his own.

For the newspapers, Caldwell developed a self-named panel effort that maxed out at about 60 clients in the late 1980s.

Caldwell's books included Running A Muck: A Bunch of Zany Cartoons (Writer's Digest Books, 1978); Mug Shots: A Splendid Collection of Cartoons (Fantaco, 1980); The Book of Ultimates (McGraw-Hill, 1983); Caldwell (Fawcett Columbine, 1988); Fax This Book: Over 100 Sit-Up-and-Take-Notice Cover Sheets for Better Business (Workman, 1990); and Faxable Greeting Cards (Workman, 1991).

Caldwell continued to enjoy a number of freelance opportunities through Christmas of this year, when the cancer robbed him of the ability to sit and do work.

Upon Caldwell's passing, Tomas Bunk posted a cartoon that Caldwell had sent him ten years upon the occasion of his own cancer diagnosis.

Caldwell is survived by his wife Diane, daughter Kristen, and a grandson. A funeral service is planned for Wednesday.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

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